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10 June 2013. Add comments on Michael Hayden and Edward Snowden.

9 June 2013

We Steal Secrets Review

Alex Gibney's and Alexis Bloom's We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is available for viewing on iTunes for $14.95 (this is advertised now on newpaper ads for theater showing of the documentary). We viewed it last night, about half at regular speed, pleasurably, the rest fast-fowarded, sickeningly. This is a juxtaposition of two films, one excellent and truthful, one vulgar and dissimulative.

The first film shows Assange and colleagues doing what they became world famous for: publishing material released by supremely courageous Bradley Manning. This is compelling, impressive and informative -- photos and film we had not seen before -- despite annoying padding with trite graphics and edgy music.

Assange is spell-binding, supported by appearances by others who bravely, or foolishly, joined his valiant endeavor to challenge authority with its own horrid evidence. This portion of the film should be seen for what WikiLeaks, Assange and Manning deserve to be forever honored, rewarded, freed from official approbation and hounding, handsomely endowed for life.

The second film is excreable, inexcusable smearing of WikiLeaks, Assange and Manning. Something appears to have deranged Gibney (aided by aggrieved former Assange beneficiaries), probably the religious torment of producing a commercial film with its obligatory moralism in favor of established authority's shaping of public acceptance of those in power (at worst, they were threatened and bribed by the natsec machine).

Tormented by how to produce this hired and tired hatchet job while worrying about the loss of reputation for previous highly-praised true documentaries on the Catholic Church, Eliot Spitzer, Enron and more.

Former Assange supporters equally tormented by how to convincingly account for change of heart from warm to cold, change of mind from belief to doubt, change of fortune upward, downward, stigmatized, indebted, change of forgiveable innocence to amply-deserved guilt, thence into cynically manipulated secret grand juries and coerced forever by court-sealed files.

Adrian Lamo's performance provides a starlet-level example of simulated torment wracking a participant transfixed by inchoate understanding of good and evil, adrift morally, faux-apologetic and highly righteous, now locked in a lifetime bear hug with Manning, his all-too-trusting, self-doubting superior.

The odious Lamo hypnotist, in the film righteousness-flaunting Timothy Webster, deserves boiling in oil. The face of fear of authority engendered by induction into secretkeeping hell on earth exemplified by fear-mongering authoritarian, Michael Hayden, ex-CIA and NSA head, film source of "we steal secrets," now shilling for private spying contractors. Hayden is the Stephen Colbert of the film, a ridiculous cariacature of military "intelligence" beguiling gullible elected officials "read into" secretkeeeping to exclude the citizenry in disguise of complicit "oversight," as with film directors. Hayden's masterful spyjinks hoodwinks media (on Fox News damning heroic contractor Edward Snowden), overseers, citizenry and Gibney-Bloom as Webster hi-jacked Lamo. As self-lampooning military justice in Manning's trial cariacatures justice by "in camera" film-editing manipulation.

Charitably, Gibney and Bloom could be seen as making an obviously bifurcative good-shit-film to send a signal of dissent: "Don't believe this crassly Hollywood production, we did it for the money. Forgive us our sin, dear paying viewers, we whored clothed in WikiLeaks, Assange and Manning raiments. We offer this movie-church-preach scripted contrition."

Genuine confession and penance is due, Alex and Alexis, or your reputation is threatened, documentary subjects will want nothing to do with you, instead, like us, warn subjects to expect stagecrafted smear, deception and betrayal. That includes you, Adrian, Timothy and Michael, and, not least, former Assange supporters and current exploiters.

Coda: Documentaries are moralistic by design, preacherly and mediac, and this accounts for their popularity -- they deliciously shift blame to obvious targets to relieve us of unbearable shame and weakness. Not a few documentarians, emulating preachers and media, have become wealthy playing our instrument of desire for diversion and illusory vicarious power. There is no real distinction among commercially-driven documentaries, religion and media. Does this include WikiLeaks and Assange? Manning, and now Snowden, is the answer we need to hark.